Moreno, Guadalupe (2020). Working fictions of money: the making of currency (dis)trust in Argentina (1880-2020). PhD thesis, Universität zu Köln.

Dissertation Final (Guadalupe Moreno) - KUPS.pdf - Published Version

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Why is it that money works best when it can be taken for granted? Moreover, why do we stop trusting money? This dissertation delves into the social, political, and institutional processes that support trust in contemporary fiat money and argues that, in contemporary capitalist economies, trust in money is grounded in working fictions of money. Popular fictions of money convey a false image of what money is and how it works; they depict money as a commodity that possesses an intrinsic value that lasts over time. However, the image of money created by these fictions is false. Contemporary money is fiat, and therefore it is not supported by any material asset. This study shows that monetary crises reveal the fictionality of money’s working fictions, and in doing so, they cause trust in money to morph into distrust. Monetary crises cast a spotlight on the institutional reality and the inner workings of contemporary money and show there is nothing behind fiat currencies, no substance that supports their value. Through this analysis, the thesis exposes the paradox of modern money: that once people are aware of money’s true nature, they do no longer trust it. The dissertation studies trust in money through the analysis of a specific case. It shows how recurrent monetary crises in Argentina have caused trust in money to morph into distrust. After an in-depth analysis of the many crises Argentina experienced between 1880 and 2015, the study analyses the Argentine central bank’s most recent attempt to recover trust in money: implementing inflation targeting between 2016 and 2018. However, once again, the policy did not work. This failure showed that people’s lack of trust in the national currency has become a significant limitation to the Argentine state’s ability to recover control of its national currency. The flip side of this lack of trust in the peso is that the Argentine currency has stopped performing some of its essential functions and was replaced, de facto, by the US dollar. The dissertation concludes that distrust in money is self-reinforcing and fosters a monetary dynamic in which monetary crises are chronic and recurrent. It also highlights how the institutional constraints imposed by money’s international hierarchical architecture intensify Argentina’s monetary problems and make the country’s economy even more prone to monetary upheavals.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD thesis)
CreatorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
Moreno, Guadalupegm@mpifg.deUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-303931
Date: 2020
Language: English
Faculty: Faculty of Management, Economy and Social Sciences
Divisions: Externe Einrichtungen
Subjects: Social sciences
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Economic sociology; money; monetary and financial crises; trust in money; International monetary system; central banks, emerging economiesUNSPECIFIED
Date of oral exam: 18 November 2020
NameAcademic Title
Beckert, JensProf. Dr.
Nemiña, PabloProf. Dr.
Kaiser, AndréProf. Dr.
Refereed: Yes


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